Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Hey Everyone, It is Present Time!!

Christmas is near! I have no interest in the season as a religious holiday, but I love to celebrate our family's traditions and show how much I love them. Some would argue that gifts are not the way to do that. I think it can be. My children don't get a lot of things throughout the year. New clothes at the start of school. Little things here and there, but we aren't rich. Sometimes it makes me sad when I tell them they will have to wait until Friday for something that really shouldn't have to wait. So at Christmas I do my best to make it nice for them.

When they were little it was great to see their excitement build and read their letters to Santa. I have always tried to shift the focus from one of greed to one of thoughtfulness. When they became too old for "Santa", we began the tradition of them choosing the items for each other's stockings. Even as little ones, their gifts for each other was always a book they chose for each other. That night at the book store spent making a selection for someone else was one of our favorite nights. It was also one of the few times they ever received a new book.

Christmas hats 2010
Last year we started a new tradition of making one gift for everyone in the house as well. I made hats for everyone, Lou designed scratch boards for us, C made keepsake boxes for the kids and a frame for me, Sonny decorated pillowcases with iron-ons. It was really nice. I hope that is something we continue. I know I already have plans for this year and am all set to begin the making this week. 
As with so many things, our holiday traditions will be going through a transition as the kids grow up. One of the pins I saw today on pinterest gave me an idea that might fit the new situation. It advised 4 gifts. One thing you need, one thing you want, one thing to wear, and one thing to read. That would be lovely at any age. And no matter how grown up they will be, they are always going to be my kids.

The start of a gift
I also plan to make gifts for some of my daughter's friends, my nieces, and my nephew. I don't know what else will make its way to my needles, but one thing is sure, every stitch makes my heart happy. I don't want the things I make to be just an obligatory gift, but something that warms someone's soul.

My Mom probably instilled my love of Christmas and Santa. She was an amazing Santa and would go to incredible lengths to get everything just right. I know the efforts we put in for my kids when they were little. I can only imagine how she was able to get us the exact Cabbage Patch Kids we wanted in 1983. Our stockings were always overflowing and the house looked marvelous when we woke up full of wonder. 

It wasn't until I had kids that I realized the antics that went on in those overnight hours. It was the only day of the year that my mom would drink. Vodka, cranberry juice, and Squirt. There is photographic evidence of her peeing her pants when my sister fell on wrapping paper after setting the camera timer to take a picture of them in front of the finished tree. It still brings tears to my eyes to think of it. She had so much fun providing that Christmas morning for us. She would go on day-long shopping trips with her oldest friends every year. It was often the only time they saw each other; she worked 60 hours a week. We would have to go hide when she got home so they could carry in all of the packages. Sometimes my out-of-town sisters had to be called on to hunt down a hard-to-get present. 

One year, we could not find a Little Big Ears doll for my niece. Goodness knows why she wanted one. We could not pull it off. But Santa can do anything. A week after Christmas we had the doll, wrapped it, and threw it out the upstairs window on top of the bay windows. We hollered for my niece and I crawled out on the icy slope to get the present that had fallen out of Santa's sleigh. She was a believer. 

I am proud to say my children believed in Santa for a very long time. (My idea of how long may vary from what they would say, but they were smart enough not to let me know.) I would not trade those years in for anything and I hope when they have little ones they will let me play Santa with them. Sometimes I miss being able to say, "Santa is watching you," and have that make everyone behave.

I believe that one day of gift giving, and getting, will not instill greed in a child. If you live your life 364 days of the year on the right path, one day will not undo everything. Taking away an "American" institution could be more hurtful to a child than a few toys wrapped in paper. Life is not made up of holidays, if you don't show you care about someone everyday, no amount of presents can buy that.